Posts Tagged ‘Catalonia’

Spain wants exiled ex-Catalan leader arrested if he travels to Denmark

January 21, 2018

Axed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont speaking after the results of the regional elections in Catalonia. (AFP)
MADRID: Spain wants ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont arrested if he travels to Denmark for a university debate from his Belgian exile, Madrid prosecutors said Sunday.
The prosecution service said it would “immediately” have a supreme court judge issue an arrest warrant for the secessionist leader, sacked by Madrid after the Catalan parliament declared independence on October 27, and urge Denmark to hand him over.
Puigdemont fled to Belgium in late October after Madrid sacked his cabinet over their breakaway attempt, but is eyeing a return to power after pro-independence parties won an absolute majority in regional elections in December.
At home, however, he risks arrest on charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.
Several fellow separatist lawmakers are already in custody in Spain over their role in the regional parliament unilaterally declaring independence on October 27 and Spain’s general prosecutor office said Saturday that “it’s inadmissible that the privilege of parliamentary immunity should be interpreted as impunity.”
A final decision will rest with the Spanish judge who will have to act in record time to issue the warrant for examination by Danish authorities.
Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena dropped a European arrest warrant for Puigdemont and four of his deputies who fled to Belgium in early December, saying it would complicate the overall probe into the region’s leaders — but warned they would be arrested if they return, retaining a domestic warrant.
Were a magistrate in another EU state to make a ruling on the secessionists — including to drop charges which could bring a maximum 30 years in jail — Madrid would be bound by that decision.
Those facing charges say in their defense that under Belgian law there is no case against them. As long as he does not return to Spain, where the warrant remains in place, Puigdemont and his fellow lawmakers are therefore free to move around Europe as they please.
Puigdemont is due to take part in a debate at the University of Copenhagen about the secession crisis in the region, according to the university website.
The conference is titled: “Catalonia and Europe at a crossroads for democracy?“
It will be his first public trip since he arrived in Belgium. Having been in the country for three months without a residence permit, he would also have to leave, albeit briefly, to conform with EU residence laws.
On Monday, Puigdemont is due to reveal which candidate he is putting forward to lead the region ahead of a debate culminating in a vote at the end of the month.
He himself is the main candidate but wants to be invested from Belgium in order to avoid arrest if he returns to Catalonia. The Madrid government has ruled out his being allowed to rule from outside the country.

Trying to Break Up Was Costly for Catalonia

January 21, 2018


By Maria Tadeo

Research now sees it growing slower than Spain’s national average

Catalonia will continue to count the cost of its drive for independence, according to BBVA Research.

The Madrid-based bank sees the Catalan economy trailing the performance of Spain overall, as indicators point to weakness across the board from job creation to consumer spending. The lender’s research department sees Catalonia, the biggest regional economy, growing 2.1 percent this year compared to a forecast of 2.5 percent for the whole of Spain.

BBVA says political uncertainty pegged to the region’s push for unilateral independence is weighing on growth. The expansion in the first half of 2018 will be below the average over the past three years – with all main economic indicators trailing their estimates before the illegal referendum in October, according to BBVA.

 Image result for catalonia protests, photos

Catalonia Takes a Hit

Main indicators show the Catalan economy underperforming since its October referendum

See graphic:

Source: BBVA Research

Post-referendum forecasts take into account already released data.

The BBVA predictions come as the Catalan parliament prepares to elect its next regional president with all eyes on ousted leader Carles Puigdemont who insists on taking office from his self-imposed exile in Belgium. Who forms the new administration will be key, according to BBVA. The central government in Madrid has warned Puigdemont can’t govern if he’s not physically in Spain.

BBVA also slashed its growth forecast for Spain in November, citing the political tensions stemming from referendum. It predicts expansion of 2.5 percent this year, down from 2.8 percent in a previous report. It also trimmed its projection for 2017, forecasting growth of 3.1 percent.

While keeping them unchanged at these lower levels in their latest report, it said the impact on the whole of Spain from the Catalan crisis had been limited.


Ex-Catalan leader says can govern region from Belgium

January 19, 2018


© AFP/File | Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont says he has the legitimate mandate to rule after his Together for Catalonia list won the most votes within the separatist camp in the December elections

BARCELONA (AFP) – Catalonia’s former leader Carles Puigdemont, who was sacked by Madrid over his attempt to break from Spain, said Friday he can govern the region from Belgium as he eyes a comeback after scoring big in elections.”There are only two options: in prison I would not be able to address people, write, meet people,” Puigdemont, who is in self-imposed exile in Belgium and risks arrest on charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds if he returns to Spain, told Catalunya Radio.

“The only way is to continue doing it freely and safely.”

“Nowadays big business and academic research projects are essentially managed using new technology,” he added.

“These aren’t the kind of normal conditions we would have liked, but it’s sadly much harder to do it (govern Catalonia) from the Spanish state, where we would be in prison.”

Puigdemont, who was sacked along with his cabinet on October 27 after the regional parliament declared independence, is the only candidate of Catalonia’s separatist block to lead the region.

He insists he has the legitimate mandate of the people to rule after his Together for Catalonia list won the most votes within the separatist camp in December elections.

But the central government in Madrid has warned it will take the matter to court and keep direct control over Catalonia if Puigdemont tries to govern from Belgium, where he and other ousted regional ministers fled after the October independence declaration.

Court refuses to free jailed Catalan ex-vice president

January 5, 2018


© AFP/File | Protesters called for the release of jailed former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras in front of the city hall of Sant Vicenc dels Horts, near Barcelona, on Thursday

MADRID (AFP) – Spain’s Supreme Court on Friday decided not to release former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras, jailed while he is investigated for rebellion and sedition over the region’s independence drive.Three judges ruled unanimously that “there are signs that Junqueras committed the offences of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds,” a spokesman for the Madrid court said.

They also decided there was a risk he would “re-offend as there is no sign that the defendant has any intention of abandoning the route he has followed until now.”

The court also denied claims that Junqueras, in custody since November 2, was a “political prisoner” as claimed by his supporters and those who want independence for Catalonia.

The judges said that the Constitution allows for the defence of any political position, “but this must be defended without committing any offence.”

Junqueras was instrumental in Catalonia’s attempt to break away from Spain via a referendum that took place on October 1 despite a court ban and a unilateral declaration of independence later that month.

After the declaration, Madrid sacked the regional government including Junqueras, imposed direct rule on the semi-autonomous region, dissolved its parliament and called snap Catalan elections.

The polls on December 21 saw separatist parties, including a ticket led by Junqueras’s leftist ERC party, retain their parliamentary majority and the former vice president elected as a regional lawmaker despite being in prison.

Junqueras argued before the judges on Thursday that he should be released to be able to take his oath as a lawmaker, his lawyer, Andreu Van den Eyden, told reporters.

Catalonia’s former president Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium shortly after the independence declaration, was also re-elected.

It is unclear, however, how they will be sworn in.

Separatist parties won 70 seats in the 135-seat Catalan parliament, but eight belong to politicians who are either in jail or have fled to Belgium.

Catalan crisis has cost ‘a billion euros’ declares Spanish economy minister

January 2, 2018


Raigo Pajula, AFP | Spain’s minister of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, Luis de Guindos, at a meeting of the Eurozone economic and financial affairs ministers (ECOFIN) in Tallinn, Estonia, on September 16, 2017.


Latest update : 2018-01-02

Spain’s economy minister claimed Monday that the Catalan independence crisis had cost the country “a billion” euros as fallout from the turmoil continued to hamper growth in the wealthy region.

Luis de Guindos said slowdown in growth in Catalonia, which accounts to around a fifth of Spanish GDP, was hampering the eurozone’s fourth largest economy as a whole.

“Catalonia used to have growth above that of Spain, it was one of the drivers of the Spanish economy,” he told Spanish radio.

“However, in the fourth quarter, it’s become a burden.”

De Guindos estimated the crisis could “easily have cost a billion euros”.

Banned referendum

Spain was plunged into its deepest political crisis in decades when separatists in Catalonia’s regional government declared independence in October following a banned referendum on the topic.

Led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Madrid invoked powers provided for by Spain’s constitution to suspend the region’s cherished autonomy, sack its government and parliament, and call fresh regional elections in a bid to head off the secession drive.

But separatist parties won the most seats in the December 21 vote, and with the Catalan issue likely to drag on well into 2018 there are fears the crisis could hamper Spain’s recovery from the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

More than 3,100 companies have already moved their legal headquarters from Catalonia, including major banks and retail firms.

De Guindos blamed “enormous uncertainty, concern and a loss of confidence generated by the previous (Catalan) government”.


Fugitive Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont asks Spain to restore his government

December 31, 2017

Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont arrives to attend a gathering to watch the election results for Spain’s Catalonia region in Brussels on December 21. (AP)

MADRID: Catalonia’s fugitive former president has called for Spanish authorities to open negotiations regarding the restitution of what he calls his “legitimate government.”

Carles Puigdemont said via social media channels from Brussels on Saturday that Spain should “recognize the election results of December 21 and start negotiating politically with the legitimate government of Catalonia.”
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy deposed Puigdemont and his cabinet after Catalonia’s regional parliament voted in favor of a declaration of independence from the rest of the country in October.
But pro-secession parties, including one led by Puigdemont, won the most seats in elections last week.
Puigdemont fled to Belgium to avoid a judicial investigation into suspicions of rebellion by him and his government. He did not say Saturday if he plans to return to Spain, where an arrest warrants awaits him.
Rajoy said on Friday that he plans to convene Catalonia’s newly elected parliament on January 17.
In-house rules of Catalonia’s parliament require that a candidate to form a government be present.

Spanish government begins withdrawal of thousands of police from Catalonia

December 27, 2017

Spain has announced it will begin to pull out police reinforcements sent to Catalonia ahead of the region’s contested October independence vote. As many as 10,000 additional officers are thought to have been deployed.

Spanien Demo gegen Unabhängigkeitspläne in Katalonien (picture alliance/dpa/NurPhoto/X. Bonilla)

The Spanish government on Tuesday announced that it had begun pulling out police reinforcements from Catalonia, almost three months after they were sent to halt an independence referendum that the Constitutional Court had declared illegal.

Spain’s Interior Ministry and the Spanish police union said the withdrawal should be completed by Saturday.

Read more: Opinion: After Catalan elections, it’s back to the drawing board

Madrid deployed thousands of additional officers from Spain’s National Police and Guardia Civil to Catalonia in September, just as the northeastern region was preparing to vote in a contested independence referendum.

The vote on October 1 was subsequently marred by scenes of violence , as police used batons and rubber bullet to try and force voters away from the polling booths. At least 92 people were injured in the clashes, while Catalan authorities claimed at the time that as many as 900 people needed hospital and medical attention on the day of the vote.

Although Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government never placed an exact figure on the number of additional officers sent to Catalonia, most media estimated it to be between 4,000 and 6,000. However, Spain’s top-selling daily, El Pais, put the figure at around 10,000.

The crackdown prompted Catalan separatists to dub the Spanish police reinforcements as an “occupying force.”

Catalonia still rising separatist wave

Despite the numbers of police and their often brutal interventions, the referendum still saw millions of Catalonians cast their ballot, giving the separatist vote a substantial majority.

The vote, however, led Rajoy to sack Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, dissolve the Barcelona-based government and impose direct rule from Madrid.

Read more: Spain’s King Felipe VI urges Catalan leaders to avoid new confrontation

The prime minister also called for early elections, which took place last week. The separatist parties once again maintained their majority and are expected to form a new government.

dm/jm (AFP, dpa)

Spain’s king uses Christmas speech to urge Catalan lawmakers to avoid confrontation

December 25, 2017


© AFP |Spanish King Felipe VI delivers his Christmas Eve message at the Royal Palace in Madrid on December 24, 2017


Latest update : 2017-12-25

King Felipe VI used his traditional Christmas Eve address Sunday night to call on Catalonia’s newly elected parliament to renounce further moves toward secession from Spain.

“The way forward cannot once again lead to confrontation or exclusion that, as we now know, only generates discord, uncertainty, anguish,” the Spanish monarch said in a televised speech.

The king gave the address four days after regional parliamentary elections resulted in separatist parties being voted back into power. Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, had dissolved the previous parliament after it voted in October to declare Catalonia an independent republic, but saw his hopes dashed that separatists would not regain a majority of seats.


“2017 for Spain has been, without a doubt, a difficult year for our commonwealth, a year marked, above all, by the situation in Catalonia,” Felipe said. “(Catalonia’s) leaders must face the problems that affect all Catalans, respecting their diversity and thinking responsibly in the common good.”

The king’s last televised address was on Oct. 3, two days after Catalonia’s regional government disobeyed a court injunction and held a referendum on secession. The king harshly criticized the Catalan government as disloyal.

His tone was more conciliatory on Sunday, when he recognized that while Spain had grown into a fully integrated member of the European Union, “not everything was a success” in recent decades.

He insisted on recovering the “harmonious coexistence at the heart of Catalan society, in all its diversity, so that ideas don’t divide or separate families and friends.”


Catalonia Election Results a Stinging Defeat For Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy

December 22, 2017

Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy has said he is willing to talk with Catalonia’s new government after an electoral upset by separatists. Whether he is willing to meet with ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont is less clear.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (Reuters/S. Perez)

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Friday that he expects a “new era based on dialogue” with Catalonia’s new leaders after separatist parties won a parliamentary majority in Thursday’s key regional election.

Speaking at a press conference in Madrid, Rajoy said he was willing to speak with the region’s new leaders as long as they do not violate the Spanish Constitution.

He also ruled out the possibility of holding a new national election.

Infografik Catalonia‘s way to independence

The results of Thursday’s regional vote exposed the divide between the region’s citizens concerning the issue of independence. A coalition of secessionist parties won a narrow absolute majority in the Catalan regional parliament during the election. However, the single party with the most seats was the pro-Madrid Citizens party.

Read moreSpain warns EU of Russian meddling in Catalan separatist movement

Rajoy brushes off Puigdemont’s offer to meet

During Friday’s press conference, Rajoy sidestepped a question on whether he would be willing to take up an invitation from ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to meet following the election results.

“The person I should be meeting with is with the one who won the elections, and that is Mrs Arrimadas,” Rajoy said, referring to centrist, anti-independence candidate Ines Arrimadas of the pro-Spain Citizens party.

Puigdemont, who is in self-imposed exile in Brussels, offered earlier on Friday to meet with Rajoy outside of Spain to discuss Catalonia’s independence crisis. He added that it was time to repair the damage done by Madrid’s decision to take direct control of the region.

Read morePro-independence Catalans rally for jailed leaders in Barcelona

Puigdemont’s government held an independence referendum, despite it having been deemed illegal by Spanish courts. Voters who took part, less than half of those eligible, voted overwhelmingly for independence. However, politicians in Madrid and Barcelona had urged those opposing independence to ignore the ballot altogether.

Madrid stepped in after Catalan lawmakers declared independence, dismissing Puigdemont’s government and dissolving parliament using the contentious Article 155 of the country’s constitution. Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy later called the snap elections.

Read more — Spain’s Article 155: The constitution’s ‘nuclear option’

rs/msh   (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)


Ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont ready to meet PM ‘anywhere outside Spain’

Speaking from self-imposed exile in Brussels, Carles Puigdemont says he will return to Spain, but only if he receives guarantees.

Axed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, flanked by former Catalan Health minister Antoni Comin (L) and former Catalan Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food Meritxell Serret (R), reacts after the results of the regional elections in Catalonia at the Square - Brussels Meeting Centre in Brussels on December 21, 2017. Catalan separatists won a crucial snap poll on December 22, 2017, plunging their region into further uncertainty after a failed independence bid rattled Europe and t
Image:Mr Puigdemont’s party won the second largest number of seats

Disputed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has said he is ready to hold talks with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy anywhere in the EU other than Spain.

Speaking at a news conference in Brussels, where he fled into self-imposed exile after his government was sacked, Mr Pugidemont insisted he wants to be reinstated as Catalan leader.

And he confirmed he would return to Spain, if he was given guarantees by the government he could take up his position as head of a potential new Catalan government.

It comes after his Together for Catalonia party claimed 34 seats in the regional elections, which Mr Puigdemont said opened a “new era” for the autonomous region.

Mr Rajoy has refused to engage in dialogue with pro-independence leaders until they agree to limit their political goals within Spain’s constitution – which bans unilateral secession of any of the country’s 17 autonomous regions.

:: ‘Families are torn apart’ – Catalonia divided as voters go to the polls

People react to results in Catalonia's regional elections at a gathering of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) in Barcelona, Spain December 21, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Image:Turnout was predicted at 82%

Two other pro-independence parties won a combined 36 seats in the elections on Thursday.

That total gives separatists two more seats than the 68 needed for an absolute majority – ensuring that they retain control of Catalonia’s regional government.

Mr Puigdemont was the most voted candidate among separatists, and could be chosen to lead a new pro-independence coalition after negotiations with other parties.

Despite this, unionist party Citizens topped the poll and won 37 seats.

Video:Puigdemont: The Spanish state has been beaten

Catalonia went to the polls after its government was dissolved by Madrid, who deemed its declaration of independence in October “illegal”.

Mr Puigdemont said Thursday’s majority by separatist parties was a victory for the “Catalan republic” over the Spanish state, and said Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his allies “have lost”.

“This is a result which no one can dispute,” Mr Puigdemont told supporters in Brussels.

“I think we have earned our right to be listened to.”

:: Catalonia Independence: The political divide in Barcelona

Mr Puigdemont said it was “a slap” for the Spanish PM, adding: “Rajoy has lost the mandate he sought.”

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 29: Protesters wave Spanish flags during a pro-unity demonstration on October 29, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. Thousands of pro-unity protesters gather in Barcelona, two days after the Catalan Parliament voted to split from Spain. The Spanish government has responded by imposing direct rule and dissolving the Catalan parliament. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Video:Catalonia Independence: The view from Madrid

The leader of the pro-Spanish party that won the most votes promised her party will continue to fight the region’s separatists.

“The pro-secession forces can never again claim they speak for all of Catalonia,” Ines Arrimadas said.

“We are going to keep fighting for a peaceful co-existence, common sense and for a Catalonia for all Catalans.”

“Today we have sent a message to the world, that the majority of Catalans feel Catalan, Spanish and European and will continue to do so,” she added.

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  • ‘Families are torn apart’ – Catalonia divided as voters go to the polls

  • Tight fight as Catalan election campaigning draws to an end

  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told to keep out of Catalonia crisis

  • Catalonia independence: What you need to know

European Union figures begin to react to the  – influential federalist MEP here👇– @KRLS has been hoping for EU support ever since he fled to Brussels. Still not getting it.

It is unclear what Mr Puigdemont’s next move will be, and Sky’s Europe Correspondent Mark Stone said the ousted leader is still at risk of being arrested when he returns to Spain.

“There is no longer an international arrest warrant out for him, but there is a domestic arrest warrant and up until the point of this election the Spanish authorities were clear that if he were to return to Spain, he would be arrested.”


After Catalan Voters Embrace Independence — Puigdemont offers to meet Spain’s PM outside Spain

December 22, 2017


Axed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont gives a press conference in Brussels on Friday, Dec.22, 2017. (AFP)

BRUSSELS: Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on Friday offered to meet Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy outside Spain for talks on the region’s independence crisis, a day after separatists won a parliamentary majority in snap polls.

Puigdemont was speaking to reporters in Brussels, where he fled after his region’s parliament declared independence from Spain. Should he return, he faces arrest on charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of funds.
“I am willing to meet Mr.Rajoy in Brussels or in any other location in the EU, so long as it is not in the Spanish state, for obvious reasons,” he said.
The vote was widely seen as a moment of truth on the independence question, a divisive issue for the wealthy northern region, that has rattled a Europe already shaken by Brexit.
With the secessionists maintaining their parliamentary majority, the move to call snap polls appeared to backfire against Rajoy, who had sacked the regional government and dissolved its parliament over the independence declaration.